Local News

Crops, Livestock Hit Hard By North Carolina Drought

Posted June 20, 2002

— Thousands of acres of North Carolina farmland are in trouble and in desperate need of rain.

The entire state is under a severe drought, but crops are not the only thing suffering; livestock is also being hit hard.

"Right at this point, I'd say we are at or just beyond the critical point," said Russ Seibert, farm manger for the Maple View Dairy in Orange County.

One of Seibert's jobs is to grow the crops for the cows.

"One hundred and twenty cows times 100 pounds of feed, 365 days a year. It piles up pretty heavy," he said.

A cow's favorite food is silage -- the whole corn plant, stock, leaves and corn all ground up and stored in a silo to ferment and then be fed throughout the year.

However Seibert's crop might not make it. The corn has not reached where it should for this time of year.

For the last six weeks, the corn has basically stood still in the field from lack of moisture.

"I've never seen it this bad, this early, myself," Seibert said.

In addition to the silage rations, this time of year the pastures should also be providing some food.

"It should be looking green and have some grass in it. This is brown. There is just nothing growing in it, and basically nothing for them to eat," Seibert said.

The drought not only hurts farmers this year, but next year as well if the rain does not come within the next few days.

"This is all of next years feed sitting out here," Seibert said. "I would just as soon it be raining, right now. A great weekend would be if it rained for two days. A nice steady light rain."

Beef farmers are dealing with another problem. Since they cannot feed their cows, they are they sending them to market. Because of a glut in the market, prices have dropped dramatically.

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